If you have a blog, want to contribute to NWSidebar, or are thinking about starting your own blog (legal or otherwise), here are a few tips that will help you write great blog posts.
1. One at a time.
Limit blog posts to a single topic. “All About the Cases the US Supreme Court is Hearing this Session” is not an appropriate topic for a blog post. Why? There’s just too much to cover! Your audience will get lost or bored and click away. A better alternative would be “What will the Supremes do in U.S. v. Windsor?”
2. Short and sweet.
Keep your blog posts concise and simply written so your audience can easily and quickly consume the information. Use a conversational tone and try to keep posts under 500 words and under an 8th grade reading level. (Learn more about Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level System or check your writing using Microsoft Word. This post has a Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level of 6.1). Make sure every word earns its keep.
3. Breaking up is great to do.
Readers love headings. Search engines love headings. Add descriptive headings to your posts to help break it up into digestible chunks and to help readers navigate your post. Bulleted and numbered list are helpful, too.
4. Help the reader dig deeper.
Talking about a case? A recent news item? A product you love? Add links! If I want to learn more about the single topic you’ve written about, a link helps me to do that. This helps the reader think of your blog as a useful tool they’ll come back to, instead of just an interesting read. Don’t be afraid to link to your own related content, too!
5. Offer your opinion, and ask for theirs.
Sometimes writers shy away from offering an opinion because they’re afraid to ruffle feathers. This is a mistake. A well communicated opinion will help engage your readers. Invite your readers to leave their own comments. Respond to comments in a thoughtful way. Avoid arguments though — internet fights are a lose-lose situation.
6. Practice makes perfect!
I’d bet that the first brief you wrote in law school wasn’t as effective as the one you wrote last week. The best way to become a great blogger is to start blogging and keep at it. So why not submit a post to NWSidebar today? Try writing a Friday 5 — we won’t mind if it has 6 items!